Polish composer Jaroslaw Adamus was born in 1960. His biography
offers interesting details and insights into his concerns. He
was trained as a violinist, spent eight years in a monastery,
and then returned to music. All the works in this disc were
composed either in Marseilles, where he now lives and taught
the violin, or in Katowice. His music is rooted in new spirituality.
It is intense, expressive, sometimes mystic, sometimes unsettling.
Au commencement était la parole is played here by solo
cello and ten (originally four) supporting cellos. Villa-Lobos
and his multi-cellos are certainly not evoked. Instead the writing
is almost Pärt-like in its distinct sense of contemplative reach.
Clair - obscur was written the preceding year for solo
voice and string quartet. It's a minimalist lament with
a wordless open 'o' vowel and intense string glissandi.
A more recent work, Musique provisoire is composed
for Adamus's own instrument, the violin, and piano. He
is the soloist here. There are some pounding piano chords and
some ethereally high and quite taxing violin writing: there
are moments too of almost quasi-improvisational freedom in the
violin's skittering figures. Adamus's concern
for tuning and for pitch is explored in the scordatura for solo
violin in the last of the Six Vanities. Where things
are less accessible is due to the dry acoustic. This turns the
string ensemble in Omne trinum perfectum op. 2 decidedly
razory, and for all the work's piety, it's quite
an early foray by Adamus and not wholly successful.
However the cleverness of Eau.Pain.Amitié.Philosophie
resides in its generated tension between the way the strings
and piano coalesce, and then drift apart, and the way in which
the strings's more acerbic roles contrast with the piano’s
often explicitly romanticised lines. Gesualdo is evoked alongside
a tolling piano section. I tend to be resistant to phrases in
the booklet notes such as: 'the dialectical principle
is in evidence again: what was supposed to be definitive actually
becomes provisional' - largely because I don't
understand what it means. To me, the pitch fluctuations seem
to evoke the shades of Ravel and Bartók, but as an anti-dialectical
materialist I could be pitifully misinformed.
Maybe it's necessary fully to appreciate, indeed to grasp
this music, to understand Adamus's invoking of the 'logos'
and the 'logos-word-concept'. They are central
to his philosophy of music. Speaking as one who spends his time,
in MacNeice’s words, 'Loving the rain and the rainbow,/Considering
philosophy alien', I find it all hard to follow but that
doesn't affect one’s curiosity as to his music-making.
The compositions themselves are certainly charged and sympathetic.
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